Pin Donor: Molly Meyer ’71
Ashley Thomas began college with dreams of attending medical school to practice as a physician. However, as she gained more experience with health care, she soon realized that her place was at the front lines of patient care. “I chose nursing because it is a challenging yet rewarding career that offers interminable learning and the privilege of helping others every day,” she says.
A first-generation student, she notes that she has worked hard through adversity to obtain a dual degree while balancing work and extracurricular activities. Though she admits to struggling during her first semester and feeling unsupported, she persevered and is graduating with a bachelor of science in nursing and a bachelor of science in Spanish. “My acceptance to the traditional BSN program has been one of my greatest achievements,” she says.
Thomas has been active as a leader both in the classroom and in the community. A member of the traditional BSN program, Thomas has repeatedly earned Dean’s List honors throughout her undergraduate career and is a member of the Beta Eta At-Large chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society of Nursing. In addition, she was the student-elected representative for the Curriculum Committee and spent time as a peer tutor for pre-nursing courses.
The Seymour, Wisconsin, native was also active in volunteering both locally and abroad. “I was a volunteer through AIESEC (formerly the Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales) in Arequipa, Peru, for two months. My projects focused on improving accessibility to care related to the United Nations’ third sustainable development goal, Good Health and Well-Being,” says Thomas. On top of that, she also volunteered for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Dane County, The Bandana Project, and community clean-up efforts.
On top of her academic and volunteer efforts, Thomas was also a student researcher through Tiny Earth, analyzing soil for antibiotic discovery to combat the current antibiotic crisis in health care.
She has also been active in her commitment to improving quality and accessibility of care for marginalized communities, particularly Spanish-speaking patients. “My experience with Spanish culture has already helped me cross cultural barriers to provide care,” says Thomas. “I have spoken with Wisconsin State Senators in regard to the inaccessibility of care for non-English speaking patients, and I am committed to improving matters at the patient/family level, as well.”
For Thomas, receiving a pin helps connect her to the legacy of those that have come before her. “It is an incredible honor to be receiving a pin and to be a part of such a special tradition,” she says. “I have always admired the close ties between the School of Nursing and its alumni, and it is a great privilege to be joining and contributing to the legacy of Badger nurses. Thank you so much!”
Thomas’ pin was donated by Molly Meyer ’71, who says that it was a childhood dream to become a nurse. Meyer chose to donate her pin because she wants to carry on the legacy and tradition. “My pin means a great deal to me,” she says. “I think it is important to pass it along to the next generation and continue a legacy of providing excellent patient care and practice.”
Meyer looks back at her time at the school of nursing fondly, noting that she has many favorite memories saying, “There are many, including forming relationships with my nursing peers. Many of the faculty members positively impacted my experiences during nursing school.”
Meyer’s career spans more than four decades and carried on the legacy of impacting students as a nurse educator that made such a difference on her undergraduate experience. After briefly working at a local hospital after graduation, she began working at Yale Health Plan (YHP), a new PPO/HMO for Yale University, in December of 1971. Two years later, she became certified as an adult nurse practitioner through a course offered by YHP that was taught by providers and the faculty from the Yale School of Nursing. “I worked as an advanced practice nurse practitioner for more than 45 years,” she says. “I was also an assistant clinical professor at the Yale School of Nursing and was a preceptor for many years.”
In addition, Meyer helped establish the athletic medicine clinic, working with Yale University student-athletes for more than 40 years, and worked in student health, as well. On top of that, she had an internal primary care medical practice for more than 40 years and coordinated and ran the medical oncology practice.
As a result of her time at Yale, the university recently established an award called the Molly Meyer Humanitarian Award, which is given annually to male and female student-athletes whose character exemplifies selfless devotion along with compassion and concern for their team, the community at Yale, and beyond.
Meyer’s advice for School of Nursing graduates is simple: listen. “Listen to learn from your colleagues and your patients.”
Thomas will take that advice with her when she begins her career in the trauma life support center at UW Health, adding, “I look forward to the opportunity of guiding future nurses’ practices as my preceptors did for me.”